Speculation rife as Israel's top attorney orders 'examination' into PM
An "examination" has been ordered into an affair involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Sunday after weeks of media speculation and rumours.
In a statement on Sunday, the justice ministry, which is handling the matter, did not disclose what was to be examined, saying only that it had received information "on matters pertaining, among others, to the prime minister".
"We stress that this is an examination and not a criminal investigation into the prime minister," the statement read.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz, however, reported on Friday that the latest probe into Netanyahu's affairs involves suspicions of money laundering on a wide scale.
Channel 2's senior diplomatic correspondent Amnon Abramovich reported that the case involves the alleged transfer of large sums to either Netanyahu or a family member and is not linked to campaign or political funding
A spokesman for Netanyahu said that "as in all of the previous cases" of suspicions against the premier, "this will contain nothing too - because there's nothing there".
On Saturday, senior law enforcement officials told the Haaretz newspaper that part of the material the examination is based on had originated in other, unrelated probes of Netanyahu.
Recently, police tried to reach several people whom they hope can shed light on the affair and could serve as state witnesses, Haaretz said.
The probe team is comprised of a small number of officers who have kept investigation details quiet, preventing any leaks to the media. The anti-fraud unit has already gathered testimonies in the affair.
Last month, Netanyahu acknowledged receiving money from French tycoon Arnaud Mimran, who was sentenced on Thursday to eight years in prison over a scam amounting to more than $300m involving the trade of carbon emissions permits and the taxes on them.
The allegations against Netanyahu are the latest focused on his spending.
In May, the Israeli state comptroller issued a critical report about Netanyahu's foreign trips, some with his wife and children, between 2003 and 2005 when he was finance minister.